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A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar Paperback – January 1, 1989

4.8 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese

About the Author

Professor Seiichi Makino received his Ph.D. in linguistics in 1968 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is an internationally prominent Japanese linguist and scholar who is recognized throughout the world for his scholarship and for his many publications. Before beginning his tenure at Princeton University in 1991, he taught Japanese language, linguistics and culture at the University of Illinois while training lower division language coordinators. He is an experienced ACTFL oral proficiency trainer in Japanese and frequently trains Japanese instructors internationally in proficiency-oriented instruction and in the administration of the Oral Proficiency Interview. Professor Makino has been the Academic Director of the Japanese Pedagogy M.A. Summer Program at Columbia University since 1996. He also directs the Princeton-in-Ishikawa Summer Program.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 636 pages
  • Publisher: The Japan Times; 1st paperback edition (January 1, 1989)
  • Language: English, Japanese
  • ISBN-10: 4789004546
  • ISBN-13: 978-4789004541
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. E. Stevens VINE VOICE on October 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
There is a bit of a myth about Japanese grammar--that it is too complicated, too alien for the non-native speaker to ever really master. This is a myth that many Japanese perpetuate themselves, seen in unflattering characterizations of non-native speakers, or in the (unhelpful) praise lavished upon anyone who can speak Japanese to any degree, no matter how ungrammatical it may be. This is a myth that is also unfortunately and unintentionally perpetuated by guides like Jorden's "Japanese the Spoken Language" that do the learner a disservice by explaining grammatical points in a language better suited for a linguist than a language learner. For people like you and me, who want to surpass these low expectations and confusing explanations and start on the road to true fluency, "A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar" is an essential companion.

Let's face it--from the perspective of a native English speaker, mastering Japanese grammar is difficult. Very difficult. Don't trust anyone who says otherwise! Much is made of the difficult writing system, but mastering grammar is perhaps even more difficult and essential to smooth communication. Sure, learning the difference between "wa" and "ga" is not as sexy as learning how to write "love" or "raccoon dog" in kanji, but it's many times more useful on a daily basis. By providing easy-to-understand explanations as well as examples of both good and bad usage, the student is given a better understanding of basic (but still difficult-to-master) grammatical points. This dictionary does an especially good job of contrasting similar constructs that give beginning-to-intermediate (and even many advanced) students trouble (wa/ga, aida/uchi, ageru/kureru, hazu/beki, ni/de etc.
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10 Comments 233 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
This book simply has no peer. It is by far the clearest, most thorough, most concise and well-thought-out Japanese language resource out there. If you really want to understand Japanese and how it works, this is the tool for you.

You can use this book as a reference when you come across a new grammatical pattern, or systematically go through it to learn new ones. The book explains Japanese grammar points in clear English and gives many example sentences to cover the range of their uses.

People often ask me, "what's the best textbook for learning Japanese?" In my opinion, there are no good textbooks. What you need are good RESOURCES on certain areas, and this is the best for grammar. Unlike all the silly "Mr. Smith goes to Tokyo" textbooks, this book does not make you go through a pointless story from which you mine a few nuggets of information. A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar presents you with what you want to know, with no time wasted on anything else. This and a good Kanji-learning resource are what you need to begin your road to true proficiency in Japanese.
Comment 53 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book in Japan, so I don't how how available it is in North America. This book has become a vital part of my Japanese language library, helping me in more ways than I can count. Along with my English to Japanese dictionary, verb ductionary, and my kanji dictionary, this helps me structure any sentence I've ever wanted. By memorizing a few formulas and understanding examples of grammar, I understand the language so much more, I can express most thoughts I want, and I'm a step ahead of most people in my Japanese class. This is the transition for a beginner student between simple and complex sentences.
Comment 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I had been living in Japan for about 9 months and was still having a very difficult time with Japanese grammar. I didn't understand enough grammar to be able to put together my ideas and express thoughts. All I could do was recite phrases I had memorized. I had read through other Japanese grammar books but I just couldn't understand the explanations. This book gives very concise explanations that I could understand and many very helpfull examples that give you the proper context. Also this book compares and contrasts similar grammar patterns. Before I bought this book I couldn't talk, but by the time I was 3/4 through this book I could hold conversations and express the ideas I had not been able to do for almost a year and it gave me a good base to build on as I became fluent in Japanese.
2 Comments 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
The book explains grammar matters very thourously, impeccably published and is really convenient to use (the things you might need had been sought after). It is, however, not a good way to bootstrap yourself into the language, so to speak, you probably need to have decent grammar knowledge to get the most out of it. Since you'll be there sometime, the book is worth to buy anyway ^_^

I haven't said something spectacular in my review, I mainly wrote it because the book is really good and you don't want to miss it.
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Format: Paperback
I think that this book is the best book for learning basic Japanese grammar principles. It provides many good examples, in both Japanese and romanized Japanese with a translation of the sentence following. It also provides information on the finer points of the grammar point and directs the reader to related grammar points. In addition, it has a section on sentence structure and the various forms of the verbs. A must buy!
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